September 11, 2013
Members of the European Parliament are
officially nominating fugitive U.S. leaker
Edward Snowden for a prize celebrating
freedom of thought, a parliamentary representative said Wednesday.
Snowden is a candidate for the
European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of
Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei
Sakharov, which honors people or organizations for their work in the
defense of human rights and freedom of thought.
Christian Engstrom, a member of the
Swedish Pirate Party who co-nominated
Snowden for the award, wrote that Snowden is,
“paying a heavy personal price” for his
“The U.S. government hunts him as an outlaw… Governments that dare to
offer him asylum are threatened with dire consequences by the U.S.
government,” Engstrom wrote on his personal blog page.
“In a painful irony, his only sanctuary is
Russia, a country with democratic problems and authoritarian
Snowden, a computer specialist and former
employee of the U.S.
National Security Agency (NSA), was the
focus of international attention over the summer after he leaked classified
evidence of U.S. government surveillance programs to the media.
He fled to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, where
he was granted temporary asylum in Russia in late July despite repeated
extradition demands from Washington.
Alexander Sidyakin, a lawmaker in the State Duma - the lower house of
the Russian parliament - proposed nominating Snowden for a Nobel Peace Prize
“Whistleblowers cannot be treated like
criminals. They must have our protection,” the European Parliament’s
European United Left/Nordic Green Left faction, which put forth Snowden
as a candidate for the Sakharov Prize, said in a statement on its
website back in June.
“Edward Snowden risked his life to confirm what we had long suspected
regarding mass online surveillance, a major scandal of our times. He
revealed details of violations of EU data protection law and fundamental
Laureates of the Sakharov Prize - whose past
recipients include anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African
president Nelson Mandela, Chinese dissident Hu Jia, and
Reporters Without Borders, a
France-based NGO that advocates freedom of the press - receive 50,000 Euros.
An official presentation of all the Sakharov Prize candidates will take
place September 16.
Parliament leaders will announce the winner in
October, and the awards ceremony will take place in Strasbourg in December.